Imphal, June 01 2009: The Hmar National Army (HNA) which claimed to represent the Hmar community has said it will support the Government of India in implementing the controversial Tipaimukh Dam project on the confluence of Tuiruong and Tuivai rivers in Manipur only if their demands are met by the Centre and implementing agencies, among them creation of separate districts for the Hmar people in all northeast States where the community predominantly reside.
"The HNA", it said "is willing to employ all means under its disposal to help in implementing the project and at the same time expect the Government of India to meet" their terms and condtitions.
In a memorandum (a copy of which is available with Inpui-news&info) submitted to the President of India, Ms Pratibha Patil, on February 7, 2009, the group said that they would not oppose the construction of Tipaimukh dam if the Union government agrees to craved out separate districts for the Hmar tribe in "each N.E States" where the Hmars have a sizeable population.
Among the other demands put up by the relatively new, yet fast growing influential rebel group include: reservation of "80% of all proposed staffs to be appointed in the grade III and IV and all non-technical contract works for the be raised/awarded only from directly affected peoples", staff to be appointed by "NEEPCO be routed through Employment Exchange and office of Employment Exchange be constructed in the Tipaimukh area/ Dam site", formation of "labour and contractor association be form under the initiative of Dam affected people" and that "contract works be awarded only to (those) who are duly registered with the Association for the safety of the staffs and local people".
The HNA also said that it wanted the MoU signed by the Manipur government and NEEPCO on Jan 9, 2003 be be "implemented in toto".
The deal had mentioned about the rights of the indegenous Hmar community over their lands and plans to alleviate their economic conditions.
Besides, the organisation also made it made it clear that "no Meetei's (read Manipuri) be allow to enter Tipaimukh (Hmarram) area and the dam site".
" "HNA is bound to object their entry under any circumstances and this should not be construed as an attempt to ignite communal tension but rather to protect its people (Hmar tribe) from further onslaught of Meetei people," the HNA memorandum claimed.
The HNA's memmorandum issue in the name of its secretary to c-in-c Mr Joseph L.Lungtau and 'deputy c-in-c' Mr Ng Darngawn, Manipur Region, further said that "if suggestion(s) and demand(s) put foreward were accepted by (the) GoI, HNA will be under moral obligation to strengthen the hand of GoI and NEEPCO and would not hesitate to make supreme sacrifice as it feel that welfare and well-being of its people are paradoxically link to the Tipaimukh Dam".
Meanwhile, in Bangladesh there has been growing concern about the proposed Tipaimukh dam with opposition leader Khaleda Zia and her party taking up the issue.
Media reports also indicated that India is trying hard to allay Bangaldesh fear over the mega-hydel project which, scientists say, could create drought-like conditions in that country besides other environmental destructions.
* The writer of this article can be contacted at lalmalsawm(at)gmail(dot)com .